Photo: President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador and Chair of the Group of 77 and China in 2017 (centre) opened the 41st Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs on September 22. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (right), and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres (left) were also present and spoke at the session. - Photo: 2017

UN Chief and General Assembly President Praise G77 and China

By Devendra Kamarajan

NEW YORK (IDN) – Ecuador plans to host a Dialogue on Culture of Peace, according to President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador and Chair of the Group of 77 (G77) and China. This event will gather personalities of the South to “reflect on the aspirations of unity and solidarity that motivated the 77 countries to unite their voices in 1964,” he told the meeting of ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group that meanwhile represents over two-thirds of the 193 United Nations membership.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group gathered in New York for their annual meeting on September 22, traditionally held on the sidelines of the high-level week of deliberations by world leaders at the UN General Assembly during its 72nd session that convened on September 12.

Speaking on an issue of great importance to Ecuador, tax evasion, he said following a referendum held earlier this year, no public official in Ecuador could keep assets in tax havens. The creation of an intergovernmental body on tax cooperation within the United Nations was an issue of priority for Ecuador’s chairmanship of the Group in 2017.

Each dollar lost in tax evasion reduces resources for financing progress and wellbeing, President Moreno added. “It is a crime against the rights of millions of people.” Besides, to “eliminate poverty and inequality requires political decisions to face unfair distribution of wealth and exclusion.”

He informed the ministerial meeting of the work being done under the leadership of Ecuador for the elaboration of a legally binding instrument that will regulate the activities of TNCs in respect to human rights. He urged the G77 and China to support this important initiative. “Undoubtedly, this is one of the main battles of developing countries which will enable us to have a better framework of international protection,” he said.

United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) President Miroslav Lajčák, recalled that “when the Charter of Algiers was adopted 50 years ago, it marked the unity of the Group of 77. This unity has not wavered since then,” he noted. The Group is not only the “most diverse”,

The G77 is not only the biggest group at the UN, but also “the most diverse – bringing together perspectives and priorities from across the world,” he said.

Secretary-General António Guterres called the Group a “broad-ranging and influential group of countries, the largest in the United Nations.” He commended the G77 and China’s example of collective leadership that “works together to promote fair multilateralism and advance sustainable development for all.” The Group is central to the reassertion of multilateralism, he added.

While interlinked crises are challenging multilateralism as never before, they also provide a chance to demonstrate its value, by working together, revitalizing the multilateral institutions and reinforcing global norms and practices, he stressed.

“Your coordinated hard work and advocacy played a major role in the adoption of the transformative 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change.  Now we must honour the ambition set by the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] and deliver results for people and communities,” Guterres said.

He drew attention to an important aspect of the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development – financing the implementation of the SDGs. “We need to be able in each of our countries to strengthen our own base of mobilizing resources.”

Many countries are engaged in an important tax reform, but as the UNGA President had mentioned, “what we still have in many parts of the world – the African continent is a good example of that – is that the money that goes out of the African continent because of money laundering, tax evasion and illicit financial flows is much bigger than the money that goes into the continent in official development aid.”

No country alone can solve this problem, he said. “A country can do a fantastic tax reform, but that will not solve the problem if the international community does not establish norms and rules and implement those norms and rules in order to effectively fight tax evasion, money laundering and illicit financial flows,” said Guterres. “This must be a fundamental priority in our work in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.”

He added: “It is clear that we need to develop many innovative instruments of financing. We need to have leverage being able to be mobilized by the international financial institutions; we need to increase the capacity of States to access capital markets and the private sector. But, this cannot be a pretext to reduce official development aid. This cannot be a pretext for countries not to commit to the engagement that they made in the Addis Ababa Plan of Action.”

“We need to multiply resources and we cannot multiply resources by reducing one of the shares. No; we need to increase development aid, but at the same time, we need to be able to multiply other resources for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. What we cannot do is increase one by reducing others.”

“The Group of 77 and China is central to the Sustainable Development Goals’ implementation and the reassertion of multilateralism. You have already demonstrated that the transformational power of collective leadership really matters. You have led the way on South-South cooperation, and shown how partnerships can be used to mobilize resources and knowledge.”

Guterres added: “We see a growing importance of South-South cooperation, and I see for the United Nations a very important role in supporting Member States to develop the mechanisms that allow it to be even more effective.” However, “South-South cooperation cannot be an excuse for reducing North-South cooperation, and for countries of the North not to fully abide by the engagements that were assumed in the context of the Addis Ababa Plan of Action.”

Guterres added: “We cannot have things that grow to allow others to diminish. We need to have all areas growing in order for such an ambitious objective as the 2030 Agenda to be effectively implemented.”

Speaking on the long overdue reform of the UN, Guterres urged the G77 and China to continue to engage, “to make your voices heard and to play a full part in formulating and implementing these changes and improvements.”

Note: This report is a rehashed version of an article by Adriano José Timossi that appeared in the South Centre‘s SouthNews. Timossi is a Senior Programme Officer of the South Centre’s Global Governance for Development Programme (GGDP). – The Editor. [IDN-InDepthNews – 27 September 2017]

Photo: President Lenín Moreno of Ecuador and Chair of the Group of 77 and China in 2017 (centre) opened the 41st Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs on September 22. Miroslav Lajčák, President of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (right), and the UN Secretary-General António Guterres (left) were also present and spoke at the session.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate. –

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